Online counselors video chat veterans, first responders to treat PTSD

eHome heroes uses high-tech connection to heal invisible wound

ORLANDO, Fla. – Founders of a new online service called eHome Heroes hope to eliminate the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder treatments by offering confidential sessions via smartphone, tablet or computer.

“You are looking at the counselor, they are in the screen and you have a dialogue back and forth,” eHome Heroes chairman Rogers Kervin told News 6.

Kervin said the initial pilot testing has been encouraging because the counselor-patient relationships
are working.

“The fact of the matter is if I’m a counselor and I can relate to you, good things will happen,” Kervin said.

Kervin said the eHome Heroes blueprint uses seven tests to examine the patient’s mental status before the company assigns a counselor.

The website breaks down “program components,” which include:

1. Initial assessment including M3/DANA testing and counselor evaluation.
2.  Individualized treatment plan including individual, group and text counseling.
3.  45-minute individual video counseling sessions (1-4 sessions per month, depending on severity).
4. 75-minute group video counseling session (4 sessions per month / 1:8 therapist to client ratio).
5. 15-minute individual scheduled texting counseling sessions (8 times per month).

Kervin said the initial evaluation is key to getting the right help for clients.

“Sometimes people think they have PTSD and their PTSD scores are very low, but their anxiety scores
are off the chart,”  Kervin said.

According to Mental Health America, "PTSD affects 14 million American adults (4.4% of the adult population) in any given year."

Mike Clelland, a former state representative and Fire Battalion chief in Longwood, believes the system
will shatter the PTSD stigma.

“It does work," Clelland said. “All of the barriers that would keep someone from coming forward with post-traumatic stress are removed.”

Clelland said vets and first responders usually don’t want their peers to know they are dealing with PTSD,  don’t want to schedule appointments and “don’t want to have to drive to a doctor’s appointment.”

“The trauma is out there; the trauma is real,” Kervin said. “Therapy doesn’t work if you’re not doing it.”

Kervin said recent polling by Harris found that nearly 30 percent of first responders scheduled for an
appointment with a counselor never showed up.  

To date, roughly 2 percent missed an appointment with eHome Heroes.

A similar program, called eHome Military is offered to vets with PTSD.

Iraq War veteran Jose Belen said the concept offers potential help for what he calls the “invisible wound.” 

"We’re all suffering through the same things and (the key) is catching the trigger before it really hits you hard," Belen said.

Triggers can be a sound, smell or even a photograph that trigger a flashback to a traumatic experience.

eHome Behavioral Care is based in Orlando. It’s part of the eHome Counseling Management Partners LLC.

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About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.